President Donald Trump provoked his own national anthem controversy on Monday night, first booed as he took the field before a big college American football game and then appearing to mumble and stumble his way through the words to the Star Spangled Banner.
Social media lit up with commentators wondering whether he had forgotten the words and reigniting speculation about his mental health.
Critics took glee in pointing out how Mr Trump had railed against football players failing to respect the national anthem.
He was appearing at the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta.
There was further controversy when an Alabama running back was picked up by microphones dismissing the American president with a shouted expletive.
America, your President—you know, the #MAGA guy—doesn’t know all the words to our national anthem. This is a gross display of hypocrisy. Also, here’s your daily reminder that he has a 37% approval rating. Least popular President of all time. pic.twitter.com/uIi15xulO0
— Nick Laparra (@NickLaparra) January 9, 2018
Mr Trump has criticised professional football players who kneel during the anthem to protest racial injustice, as well as the NFL itself for allowing it.
"We want our flag respected," he said earlier in the day during a speech in Nashville, Tennessee, "and we want our national anthem respected also."
Super obvious Trump doesn’t know the words to our National Anthem. Disgraceful for any president, but particularly bad given his months of race-baiting rants against NFL players kneeling to demand justice. pic.twitter.com/jUD0hBqo9N
— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) January 9, 2018
There was no such kneeling protest before the game as college players remain in their locker rooms during the anthem.
However, many people watching on TV thought they spotted the president struggling with the words as the Zac Brown Band struck up.
The man CLEARLY does not know the words to the National Anthem. This is indisputable.
All of that hate he has spewed toward Black folk about taking a knee and the man doesn’t know the words.
A disgrace. https://t.co/JrwPXRXSoY
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 9, 2018
He manages the early part with, "Say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…proudly we hailed," but then seems to garble some words before opting to stay mute.
Spotting a camera, he pats his chest, before picking up some of the words again later.
IDEA: Before spending 6 months lecturing football players about respecting the national anthem MAYBE LEARN THE WORDS https://t.co/sNtVhGhZg0
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) January 9, 2018
Many observers were unimpressed, pointing out that Mr Trump had adopted a position as guardian of the anthem.
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The zoom-in to Trump being unable to sing the words to the National Anthem is like a scene from some Cold War era political thriller when this lack of knowledge reveals Potus is a Russian sleeper agent.
— Stuart Elliott (@stuartenyt) January 9, 2018
You know who knows the words to the National Anthem?
Trump, you're a disgrace.#NationalChampionship
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) January 9, 2018